Tragic Details About Lamar Odom

The following article reference addiction issues.

Oftentimes when we peek into the life of a celebrity, we notice all of the shiny and happy things in their world, whether it's material items or the adoration that person receives. But if you look longer, closer, and do a little digging, you may see the tall mounds of turmoil those celebs have dealt with.  

Let's take a look at Lamar Odom, who played in the NBA from 1999-2013. There's a good chance that many only paid attention to the glamorous lifestyle he had on "Khloé & Lamar," the reality show that he starred in with ex-wife Khloé Kardashian. Or perhaps some just thought about the former NBA player winning back-to-back championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

But long before any of those things, while Odom was growing up in Queens, New York, he suffered a major tragedy. Then he'd face plenty more tough times, with some of those moments being highly publicized and others underreported. So, we gathered and listed the tragedies that weren't covered extensively, starting from Odom's childhood. And trust us, there's a lot to unpack.

Lamar Odom lost his mom at a young age

"My father's an addict," Lamar Odom shared in the series premiere of "Khloé & Lamar," the now-defunct "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" offshoot he starred in with his ex-wife Khloé Kardashian. In that episode, Lamar also explained to Kardashian that his father Joe Odom and mother Cathy Mercer split when he was six years old. Tragically, Mercer then died of colon cancer when Lamar was 12, per Page Six. Lamar's father stopped being a consistent presence in his life after her death and he struggled with addiction. Reportedly, Joe used heroin, something that Lamar talked about during a 2020 interview with journalist Graham Bensinger. The former NBA player also spoke of the anger that he felt for his father during childhood but still wanting him to come around.

"No matter how much hate you have in you, you want him to love you more than you hate him," Lamar told Bensinger.

In regards to his mother, Lamar told VladTV that he "lost his best friend" on the day that she died. "That night I just went to the park and shot the basketball, like, all night 'til the next morning," he recalled. "That was, like, the first pass I got to stay out all night because of that situation." Sadly for Lamar, his mom's death and father's absence were just the start of his journey on a long, very dark, twisted trail of tragedy.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He struggled academically

By the time Lamar Odom played basketball for Christ the King in Queen's New York as a teen, he was already considered one of the top high school players in the country. Clearly, that kind of fame for a young person could either boost their confidence or be an interference and in Odom's case, it seemed the latter occurred. As Bleacher Report noted, the sport became his top priority, and his grades evidently took a hit — which rendered him ineligible to play. As the outlet put it, "Basketball, long Odom's saving grace, had become his biggest distraction." He ended up going to three different high schools: Christ the King, Redemption Christian Academy, and St. Thomas Aquinas Prep. At one point, Odom was able to turn things around at one of the schools but he eventually got into trouble. 

"As a student, he was above average. Anything he was asked to do [he did it]. [He was] never a disciplinary problem," Pastor John Massey Jr., founder of Redemption Christian Academy, said in an interview with the Times Union. But evidently, the "handlers" in the future star's corner didn't sit right with Massey, and Odom was expelled in 1997.

In a 2020 interview with Graham Besinger, Odom said that he "just listened to the wrong people" when he was in high school.

Lamar Odom was encouraged to cheat on his SAT

If a young person is a major up-and-coming talent destined for riches and beyond, they might meet an adult who will provide the wrong kind of assistance. When Lamar Odom was a star basketball player in high school, some helped him fudge his transcripts so he could attend college. "There was a time in high school where they just kind of, like, swept it under the rug," said Odom about his grades in a 2019 interview with Us Weekly. "I failed like four classes in my freshman year ... but because of my talent and I was a good kid, a nice kid, I kind of got over."

Odom also said he was given help to cheat on the SATs. "I think I was betrayed by the adults who kind of just put me in that position because I didn't even try," he stated. "I think if I would have tried, I would have done all right on the test. To just not give me a chance [they] almost called me dumb." Chatting with VladTV in 2021, the New York native spoke about having someone else take his SAT — and how he got caught. "They looked at my average as a student and looked at my SAT scores and then they started investigating," he said. The "they" Odom referred to are the NCAA and the federal agents they're said to work with.

His scholarship from UNLV was revoked

Lamar Odom was accused of cheating on both his SAT and ACT, which ultimately cost him his scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the institution required at least a 21 on the ACT at the time, and at first, it seemed that Odom and his score of 22 were all good to go. However, as Sports Illustrated reported, UNLV revoked his scholarship "before he'd played a single game" after he refused to give the NCAA permission to look at his ACT. Odom was also accused of receiving nearly $6,000 from a UNLV men's basketball booster, which is a big no-no in collegiate sports. After his scholarship was yanked, he told Graham Besinger that he had to take a step back and "find out exactly who had my best interests."

After the UNLV fiasco ended, Odom landed at the University of Rhode Island and played for the Rams. "One of the best times of my life," he recalled to VladTV. But despite how much the ex-hooper said he enjoyed the school, he only played there for one season before heading to the NBA.

He was suspended twice within months

Sadly for Lamar Odom, the problems he had in high school, then college, followed him into the NBA. That's because in his second season while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, he received a five-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana, according to The New York Times. "He can — if he chooses — use this as a learning experience and come out better as a result," said Elgin Baylor in a statement, per ESPN, who used to be the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations. "We will be there for him, but it is ultimately up to him."

If Odom did learn something from that five-game suspension, one could say that he didn't carry it over to the next season, because he was suspended again. The second timeout had to do with the same thing: violating the NBA's anti-drug policy, per UPI. And it was the second suspension for the former high school phenom in an eight-month span, which he spoke to reporters about in an emotional press conference. "I'm disappointed in myself," a tearful Odom said. "I'm not handling myself correctly."

Lamar Odom lost the woman who raised him

Lamar Odom has spoken more than once about the major role that his maternal grandmother Mildred Mercer played in his life. He also wrote about it on social media after his father Joe Odom criticized his marriage to former wife Khloé Kardashian. "He wasn't there 2 raise me. He was absent ALL of my life due to his own demons. My mother and grandmother raised me," Lamar tweeted (via Complex). After his mother passed when he was still a kid, his grandmother was his primary parental figure. In 2003, when  Lamar was 23 years old and just a few years into his NBA career, Mercer died.

Lamar remembers Mercer as being "always upbeat, a naturally happy person," telling Sports Illustrated in 2009, "I think I got that from her." Per the Los Angeles Times, Lamar honored his late mother and late grandmother by writing their names on his game shoes. He also paid tribute to Mercer with his jersey number.

"My grandmother, who raised me, was a big-time bingo player and playing the slots in Atlantic City. Seven is her lucky number,” he said, according to Fox Sports. "I'm a mentally strong dude. I've been suspended twice, my mother died, my grandma died as soon as I got to the [Miami] Heat. But there was one time where I thought I might mentally break down and really lose it."  

Lamar Odom mourned the death of his son

More than likely, June 28 will forever be a dark anniversary for Lamar Odom. Not only because that's the day his grandmother died, it's also when his son Jayden passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at 7 months old in 2006. Odom's third-born died exactly three years to the date of Odom's grandmother's death. According to the CDC, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is "the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1-year-old," occurring "during sleep or in the baby's sleep area."

In a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Odom recalled his final moments with his son. "He was gone already," he said. "I thought they were close to getting him to breathe again. That wasn't the case. I stayed with him for hours and hours after that, just holding him, talking to him." Then in an episode of "Celebrity Big Brother" that aired in February 2022, Odom spoke about Jayden some more. "There's just something I don't think I'd ever get over," he shared (per Us Weekly). "But him coming to me in a dream lets me know that he's not too far away. And I know I'll see him in an afterlife." Lamar shared Jayden with his ex-girlfriend Liza Morales. They also have two other children named Destiny and Lamar Jr.

A kid robbed Lamar Odom at gunpoint

Sadly, Lamar Odom would continue to be plagued by death, addiction, and misfortune after his son Jayden's passing in 2006. In the summer of that year, he was robbed at gunpoint in his native Queens, New York, by a trigger-happy teenager. "When this kid put a gun to me and held it to my face and first he shot it, then pointed it at me, I thought he was going to harm me," Odom told the Los Angeles Times. "I was thinking, 'Help me brace for this bullet.' I'd never been in this kind of situation before."

In 2018, Odom ended up in another incident in Queens involving a gun. Per Page Six, when he and some friends got into an altercation with another group of people as they were leaving a Hooters at 12:30 a.m. According to TMZ, at one point, "a man from the other group pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots into the air." Thankfully, Odom wasn't hurt and neither was anyone else. "I want to let my fans know that I am OK," Odom wrote on Instagram following the incident (via Page Six). "Just to share the 'truth' here with you all. I was near the scene when it just happened and not involved in any way!"

He was involved in a fatal car crash

In 2011, one day after Lamar Odom was attending the funeral of a cousin in Queens, New York, an SUV that the NBA star hired through a car service company got into a crash that ended up killing a 15-year-old boy. Odom was a passenger in the vehicle when it hit a motorcycle, which then hit the young pedestrian. According to ESPN, Awsaf Alvi Islam died from his injuries after emergency surgery was performed. The president of his mosque described him as being a "very quiet, a good boy," and a family friend shared that he loved soccer.

Odom told the Los Angeles Times he went over a week without eating following the tragedy. "I think the effects of seeing [my cousin] die and then watching this kid die, it beat me down," he said. "I consider myself a little weak. I thought I was breaking down mentally. I'm doing a lot of reflecting." Regarding the amount of loss he's experienced throughout his life, Odom said, "Death always seems to be around me."

His time with the Mavericks was disastrous

If one were to call Lamar Odom's short stint as a member of the Dallas Mavericks "one big mess," it would be an accurate description. In 2011, ESPN reported that he asked the Los Angeles Lakers to trade him, which they did two days after his request. He signed to Dallas after that for a reported $8.9 million. At the time, Mavs owner Mark Cuban and his staff didn't seem to have sticker-shock due to the high price and thought the money was worth it. At least based on some comments that were made. Former head coach Rick Carlisle, for example, told ESPN that he had the "best forward trio" in the league since Odom would be playing with Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki.

But after just 50 games, before the 2011-2012 NBA season even ended, Odom and the Mavs parted ways since the former forward showed little to no passion. He also gave subpar play, only averaging 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a little over one assist per game. Plus, Odom took 10 days off in the middle of the season, which probably didn't make anyone in the Mavs organization very happy. In fact, the team's reporter Dwain Price quoted Cuban as saying obtaining Odom "was by far the worst" personnel move he's ever made." Eventually, Odom was traded by the Mavs to the Los Angeles Clippers, which would be the last team he'd play for in the NBA.

Lamar Odom was found unconscious in a brothel

On October 13, 2015, Lamar Odom was found unconscious at the Love Ranch South, a brothel in Pahrump, Nevada, owned by the late Dennis Hof. TMZ reported that a woman discovered Odom in one of the suites. It's also said he ingested cocaine and an "herbal substitute for Viagra." According to Sports Illustrated, he took 10 doses of that herbal product in just 72 hours. 

As panic probably hung in the air, an ambulance was called and Odom was taken to a nearby hospital. He had to be transported on the ground because at 6'10," he was too tall to be airlifted in a chopper. Later it was reported that he was in a coma. He also had severe issues with his kidneys, as well as lungs, and machines had to be used to help him breathe. The once star hoop player was then released from the hospital in January of 2016, according to ABC News, and went to a recovery facility. "All my doctors that seen me say I'm a walking miracle," Odom told Kevin Hart on the comedian's "Cold As Balls" show in 2018. "I had 12 strokes and six heart attacks when I was in the coma." 

Odom has been open about his struggles with addiction as well as his journey to recovery. " I am a legend. I own that," he wrote on Instagram in 2021 (via Us Weekly). "I am a recovering addict. I own that too."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

His marriage to Khloé Kardashian ended

Lamar Odom and Khloé Kardashian exchanged vows in September of 2009 in a Los Angeles ceremony in front of family, friends, and celebs. But just four years later, Kardashian filed for divorce, then put it off after Odom was put into the aforementioned medically induced coma. But by December 2016, the divorce was finalized with the reality star citing irreconcilable differences, per TMZ. Reportedly, Odom's substance use contributed heavily to the split, as well as his infidelity. 

"If there is one thing I regret when I was married, it was having multiple affairs with different women," he told Us Weekly in 2017. "That wasn't the stand-up thing to do." 

Ever since the divorce, Odom has made it known that he misses Kardashian and wishes he had another shot at their marriage, even opening up about his regrets on an early 2022 episode of "Celebrity Big Brother." "I miss her so much," he shared. "I wish I could take that time back." Kardashian also said she often thinks about her ex but believes it's best for them to be apart. "I like miss him all the time but not in a place like I want to get back with him," she said in a 2019 episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." In another scene, she shared, "For him to say he's sorry publicly ... It felt good to finally feel like, 'Oh, thank god.' Just that my relationship was validated to me."

Lamar Odom's bitter breakup with Sabrina Parr

By November 2019, Lamar Odom was in love again, this time with physical trainer Sabrina Parr. Per Us Weekly, after a seemingly whirlwind romance, the two got engaged. But just one year later, the union was kaput and the engagement was off, which Parr revealed on Instagram Stories. "Y'all know I'm honest and transparent so I have to be the first to let you guys know that I am no longer engaged to Lamar," she wrote, per E! News. "This has been a difficult decision for me to make but it is the best for myself and my children."

But just a few days later, Parr said she made an about-face on the split. "Made it in time to celebrate our 1-year engagement anniversary," she relayed on social media, also captured by E! News. "I know society pushes us to walk away from everyone and everything that hurts us but the truth is, some things are worth staying for!" The reconciliation didn't last, however, and in a March 2021 "The Real" interview, Odom accused Parr of using him. "She's very deceitful," he told the hosts. "She wanted, like, clout or fame." 

In December 2021, Parr announced on Instagram that she's putting out a book called "The Freedom In Walking Away." In the caption, she shared that she left Odom a year prior. However, in his own IG post (via Us Weekly), Odom said he was the one who left. "We were toxic," he wrote. "Independently and collectively."

In 2021, Lamar Odom's father passed away

Family is family, and in the end, despite the rough times, that means a lot. Though their relationship had its fair share of difficulties, Lamar Odom only had loving words to say after his dad, Joe Odom, died on April 20, 2021. Following his father's passing, Lamar posted on Instagram, "These tears have been from joy and pain, as I embark on burying my father I ask that you extend good energy and kindness towards my family and myself."

The following month, Lamar shared a second post to honor his late father. "Life is not promised," he wrote. "My pops and I had our differences but at the end of the day I knew he loved me and I loved him and that's really all that matters." Elsewhere in his message, Lamar told his followers to settle any differences they may have with family members because "NOTHING is promised but death." The retired athlete didn't reveal his father's cause of death.

In the first Instagram post, Lamar encouraged his fans to always try to make space in their hearts for their nearest and dearest. "Understand that the most important and formative relationships you will ever have will be with family ❤️ Embrace it," he wrote. "Life is uncertain."